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A unified model of Hymenopteran preadaptations that trigger the evolutionary transition to eusociality [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary theory, social evolution

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Explaining the origin of eusociality, with strict division of labour between workers and reproductives, remains one of evolutionary biology’s greatest challenges. Specific combinations of genetic, behavioural and demographic traits in Hymenoptera are thought to explain their relatively high frequency of eusociality, but quantitative models integrating such preadaptations are lacking. Here we use mathematical models to show that the joint evolution of helping behaviour and maternal sex ratio adjustment can synergistically trigger both a behavioural change from solitary to eusocial breeding, and a demographic change from a life cycle with two reproductive broods to a life cycle in which an unmated cohort of female workers precedes a final generation of dispersing reproductives.(...)

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